Backyard friend

I caught a wonderful friend in my backyard. She’s going to be released elsewhere because I like to go outside barefoot


Is that a female? I don’t see an ovipositor…

For others: this is a velvet ant that is a furry, wingless wasp & the girls’ stings hurt a bunch. Wiki’s article: Mutillidae - Wikipedia

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Don’t the males have wings? I thought the females were the only ones that are wingless.


Ah, yes! Thank you! It says so in the wiki I linked: “Like some related families in the Vespoidea, males have wings, but females are wingless.”

She is a female, a hard to photograph one :sweat_smile:, they’re incredibly fast. I’ve also seen a smaller species in my backyard but I haven’t been able to catch it

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I did some digging into my state & there’s only a single specimen of one species from 40 years ago that is in an out of state museum collection & no observation records here that I could find. But thanks to you, I’m vicariously enjoying your backyard friends.

I oddly ran into an article on a really fluffy & adorable white velvet ant from the Mojave desert that looks remarkably like creosote fruit but whose white color predates coexisting with the plant by a long time and may have initially evolved white for thermoregulation - but the idea that it subsequently evolved to resemble the fruit isn’t mutually exclusive & I like this bit: "On many occasions I chased down what appeared to be a female D. gloriosa only to discover that it was a creosote fruit tumbling in the wind,” Dr. Manley said. “They move almost exactly like a creosote fruit.” How a Velvet Ant (Which Is a Wasp) Got Its White Fluff - The New York Times

Photo credit: Joseph S. Wilson